Gather around kids, it’s Story Time!
Once upon a time, there was a young girl who decided to go on a road trip up the West Coast because, clearly, her life wasn’t full enough of adventures. Well she and her high school friend, Pascale, set off on a fairly unprepared 12-day trip in Mabel the Gold Malibu! Our goal was to drive from Los Angeles to Vancouver along the coast and Couch Surf along the way in order to save money.
Side note about Couch Surfing for all you skeptics out there: It’s awesome. It’s a non-profit website where you can create a profile and browse through a list of people in cities all over the world that are opening up their couch or guest bedroom to you for free while you are traveling! No, the majority are not mass murderers. I said the majority.
Back to the story. We kicked off the journey with an amazing 3-day stay in the Bay Area where my cousins Cathy, Jordan and Izzy live. We decided to splurge and spend a night at the Fort Mason Hostel in San Francisco. Best. Decision. Ever. There, we became friends with our hostel leader, Erinne, who invited us to an exclusive office party at boyfriend’s work on the 18th floor of a high-rise in the financial district. Let’s just say we were hanging with the big wigs. Now, we still had one night to stay in San Francisco, but no where to stay (the hostel was booked) so our very generous hostel friend, Erinne, offered up her couches to us! We rewarded her with a can of maple syrup and some maple candy that Pascale brought from the source!
Fisherman’s Wharf on a typical windy San Francisco day
3 yogis in Petaluma
Check out my high tech slideshow below for more pics of SF and the giant Redwoods!
It was going to be hard to beat San Francisco…until we met Portland.
On our way to Portland we made a stop in Crescent City, CA where we slept in a very cozy KOA and in the morning, we went on a little trail adventure through the Redwood Forests.
A few hundred miles later we arrived in what is probably America’s most wonderful city: Portland. Food, bikes, beer and beautiful scenery. What else could you ask for? We were lucky enough to stay with some friends that my dad went to college with. We started out by roaming around the Pearl District where resides the best coffee shop in the world: Barista’s. Once our highly caffeinated bodies started to wake up, we walked/took the FREE train to Powell’s Bookstore. We basically stayed there for 2 days. I don’t think you understand how amazing this place was. Oh and it was right next door to a bangin’ record store that made me discover a band I now love: Walk The Moon.
We worked up an appetite and headed to the famous VooDoo Donuts. I had the “Old Dirty Bastard” which consisted of a donut the size of my head with chocolate and peanut butter melted over top. I died right then and there.
Keep Portland Weird
After eating your way through Portland and enjoying some local beers at Deschutes Brewery and the modern yet cozy Bailey’s Taproom, it was time to continue on to Seattle (no we did not drive immediately after leaving the pub)!
Ahhh the smell of oysters, fresh fish and coffee? Seattle greeted us with it’s cool weather and grey skies but along with that came the hustle and bustle of Pike’s Place Fish Market and the original Starbucks. As former employees, Pascale and I peeked in and immediately agreed that we would NEVER want to work at that location. It was just insane in there! Phew.
View of Seattle
Believe it or not, Jordan (cousin who we were staying with outside of San Francisco in case you lost track) was in Seattle at the same time visiting a friend and attending the Chelsea-Seattle Soccer game. We stayed on the floor of Jordan’s friend for one night and visited Seattle with them, enjoying good food, great beer and beautiful scenery. The second night we Couch Surfed with a very nice guy a little outside downtown Seattle. He left for work early in the morning and left us with the name of a coffee shop. Fuel was no Barista’s, but it did the trick!
Pike Place Market
Watching the boats come in
We thought we might be able to make up a secret sign and become part of the original Starbucks society
The story does not end here. The story only gets better from here on out. Good bye scenic, peaceful, easy travel. Good bye Mabel. We left Seattle happy as can be on our way to our final destination: Vancouver, BC. Unfortunately, out of the three of us (Me, Pascale and Mabel the Malibu) only 2 of us actually made it there.
Let me set the scene: Pascale is at the wheel, we’ve just travelled over 1300 miles, slept on strangers’ floors, spent most of our savings and use maple syrup as a currency. Mabel starts acting up so Pascale takes an exit for Bellingham, WA where Mabel breathes her last breath of gas. We got towed to a small local garage with 45 minutes before closing time. Our options: get transmission fixed for $3000 or sell the car for parts for $100. Wow. Considering Mabel was only worth $2500 (but millions in my books), I opted for option #2.
So we are now in an unknown town that is hosting a dirt car race this particular weekend meaning that all hotels are booked and rental cars have been rented out. Great. Luckily the mechanic was able to find us a rental car 30 minutes away from where we were. an $85 cab ride later, we were given the keys to a luxurious….wait for it….mini van! Yup, that happened. The good news was that we were only a few hours away from Vancouver. At the Canadian border, the agent asked us why we had a rental mini van. “WELL sir, let me tell you a little story!”. We passed the border with ease and a “Good Luck Girls!”.
Staying with a friend of a friend, Trini, we spent an amazing 3 days in Vancouver. I even bumped into a friend I went to College with in Ottawa! Small world!
Good thing AAA provided me with this signs. It’s as though they knew
Goodbye old girl
View from Trini’s porch in Vancouver
Me and Trini
As our nerves began to settle post-car abandonment, we started to think of the most logical and cheap way to get back to Los Angeles before Pascale’s flight for Montreal took off. Fabulous!
Option 1: Flying – eliminated right away because of all the stuff we had (rollerblades, yoga mat, suitcases, maple syrup…)
Option 2: Renting a car back – eliminated due to a million complications and $$$.
Option 3: Greyhound Bus – Winner! for $89 each this 52 passenger beauty will take us from Seattle Airport to downtown LA. All we need to do is return the rental van in Bellingham, take a shuttle from there to Seattle Airport and then take 3 Greyhound Buses (26 hours of luxury, comfort and serenity *insert sarcastic tone here*) back to one of the most sketchy bus terminals in the world: Los Angeles Greyhound Terminal.
Homeless, carless and living off of peanut butter waiting for the Greyhound
The story has a happy ending though. My roommate Aimee picked us up from the bus station and took us back to our beloved laundry room by the beach. Side note: There was a fire in our last apartment and we have been in a friend’s laundry room on 2 twin beds for 3 months. The next morning Pascale and I had a very NORMAL day at the beach with Smore Cupcakes from my favorite cafe in Hermosa Beach, GumTree.
All in all, ladies and gentlemen, we had an incredible adventure and, hey, it gives me something to write about!